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Can turmeric alleviate joint pain?

Turmeric, also known as Indian saffron, is a spice that has been used in culinary arts for centuries. This ingredient also possesses therapeutic properties and is highly valued in skincare treatments. Beyond its cosmetic applications, discover the benefits of turmeric on joint health.

Summary
Published February 19, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

The origins of joint pain.

Joint pain affects a large number of individuals. It is estimated that approximately a quarter of the French population suffers from arthritis. Athletes, people engaged in strenuous activities, and the elderly are most susceptible to this issue. Generally, the areas affected by loss of muscle flexibility are the back, hips, elbows, knees, and hand joints. In general, joint pain manifests during movements that strain a joint. They are a result of the gradual degradation of the cartilage that covers the bone ends of the joints, leading to pain and stiffness.

What are the effects of turmeric in alleviating joint pain?

The turmeric is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae family that grows on the Asian and African continents. This plant has rhizomes, from which it is possible to extract a powder of yellow-orange colour with a thousand virtues for the skin. This ingredient has been used for several centuries by traditional Chinese and Indian medicines for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric powder is particularly recognised for its ability to alleviate mild forms of acne, eczema or psoriasis.

The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric make it a good candidate for relieving joint pain. Indeed, it contains curcumin, a molecule that acts on many biological processes, including the induction of the COX-2 protein. By inhibiting the activity of this membrane protein, curcumin prevents the release of prostaglandins, which play a pathological role and contribute to the sensation of pain. This molecule also inhibits the synthesis of certain pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukins 1α and 6 (IL-1α and IL-6) and tumour necrosis factor (TNF-α). According to some studies, these cytokines contribute to the progression of cartilage loss, a characteristic of arthritis.

Scientists have recently taken an interest in the effect of turmeric on joint pain and conducted a study on 70 participants suffering from knee arthritis. Among these individuals, half received daily two capsules containing 500 mg of turmeric, while the other half received two placebo tablets, for a period of 12 weeks. At the end of the experiment, the researchers noted a better efficacy of the capsules with turmeric than the placebo capsules in relieving joint pain. However, they did not observe any changes in the composition of the cartilage over these 12 weeks.

The turmeric can also be incorporated into a cream and used in a topical application to alleviate joint pain. It is generally recommended to accompany it with a massage, in order to relax the joint. However, to date, there is no scientific evidence of the effectiveness of this ingredient incorporated into a cream to alleviate joint pain.

Sources

  • SUDHEER A. & al. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology (2007).

  • ANTONY B. & al. Effectiveness of Curcuma longa extract for the treatment of symptoms and effusion-synovitis of knee osteoarthritis : a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine (2020).

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